Thursday, January 23, 2020

Microstory 1284: The Squirrels and the Frogs

Squirrels are very timid creatures. The slightest twitch of a twig will cause them to run away, and seek safety. A scurry of squirrels once lived in the southern lands, who did not know what to do with themselves. They didn’t want to live like this anymore, but what else could they do? They were always afraid, but there was never any way to know for sure whether what frightened them was truly something to be feared, or if it was innocuous. The only thing they could do was run, and they only got an answer to the question once they were out of harm’s way, if at all. But what kind of life was that? Was there a way to transcend their nature? Surely they couldn’t become the predators they were so afraid of, and nature never gave them any means to protect themselves. What could they do to feel safer, and not just for one day, but in the long run? Perhaps it was impossible. One day, the whole scurry was running from a team of stampeding horses. The horses meant them no harm, but they also didn’t have any strong feelings about the squirrels, and were making no effort to avoid them underfoot. The squirrels found themselves running towards a lake. While squirrels can swim, the lake was probably too large for them to swim clear across to the other side before becoming too tired and drowning. Still, they didn’t think they had any other choice, so they just kept going. As they approached the bank, an army of frogs noticed them, and hopped into the water, frightened as well. “Look,” said one of the squirrels. “I suppose there is always someone worse off than you, isn’t there? Maybe our lives aren’t so bad.”

“No,” another replied to him, “things are neither good, nor bad. They just are. Come, let us speak with the frogs. If we teach them not to fear us, maybe we can learn to fear less as well.”

This story was inspired by, and revised from, an Aesop Fable called The Hares and the Frogs.

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